Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

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08 March 2007

Susan Bates Needle Review

My apologies if you tried to email me through the address attached to this blog. I, er, sort of mislaid the password to that account, and I finally remembered it last night:

> I would like to ask you a question regarding the
> Susan Bates needles. You mentioned in your blog that
> you own all three types, Silverado, Silvalume and
> Quicksilver. I am interested in getting some
> circular needles and I would greatly appreciate it
> if you could tell me your impressions now that you
> have had some time to use them. I have looked online
> and can hardly tell what is the real, tangible
> difference among them; I am hoping you might know.
The photos show all three types. From top to bottom in each photo: Silvalume (pink), Quicksilver (gray), and Silverado (gold, despite the name).

First, I'm going to admit that I like the Silverados the best, so you can weigh what I say with that in mind.

There are four main differences: finish, point, angle (the angle where the metal part crimps the cable)/join, and cable.

The Silvalumes have a smooth anodized aluminum finish, like almost any single-pointed or double-pointed aluminum needle available in the US.

The Quicksilvers have a "special heat-treated" gray finish that scritches against itself in use. Although Coats and Clark describes this finish as "glass-like" someone described it to me as "like one of those ceramic knife sharpeners", and that's it exactly! It's like knitting with needles coated in super-superfine sandpaper. They don't feel that way to the touch, not even to my lips. Only when they drag against each other.

The Silverado needles, on the other hand, are super, super smooth and slick. If you hate a slick needle, you'll hate these. If you like a slick needle, they might be the needles for you.

Point next: the point differences are very very slight, and there is often variation from set to set, from size to size, and sometimes even from one end of a circular to the other! But in general, the Quicksilvers I have tend to be sharpest or pointiest, Silvalumes in the middle, and the Silverados are the more blunt of the three. But the differences are slight -- and there can be more variation between one circular and another in the same line, sometimes, than between two lines.

As far as angle, the Silvalumes are bent the most at the join. (Personally, I hate this bend.) The gray Quicksilvers are just slightly bent, and the Silverado needles are straight. I don't know if you can really see it in the picture, but at the join, both the Silvalume & Silverado needles have a narrow section about an inch long on the metal part. The Quicksilver narrows and crimps onto the cable in a much shorter distance, maybe a quarter of an inch.

Last, and a real biggie with me, is cable. The Silvalume and the Quicksilver have a clear cable, with the difference that the Quicksilver's cable is thicker. I don't know what the clear stuff is, but it doesn't like to relax, even with hot water baths. The Silverado has a much thinner, limper black cable that I had a much easier time getting to relax out of its out-of-the-package coil. And then it stayed relaxed. I love the Silverado's cable for its limpness best of all.

The clear Silvalume and Quicksilver cable relaxed enough for me to use them with hot-water baths, but after they had spent some time in my knitting needle drawer in their packages, they reverted to their stubborn, sproing-y coil again.

But I am mostly knitting lightweight stuff. If you are hauling an afghan around, the Quicksilver has the thickest cable.

The black Silverado cable and the clear Silvalume cable both have a little "pinch" spot in the cable just before the needle tip. I don't know what mysterious purpose it is supposed to serve, but I find it annoying.

If country of origin makes a difference to you, all of the Silverado and Silvalume packages I have say "Made in Mexico." The Quicksilver packages say "Made in India".

One last thing -- where did I find them?

I found my very first Silverado needle by accident, in a clearance display at a Michael's craft store. I mainly bought it because it was cheap. I haven't seen one for sale anywhere except online since.

When I needed more length to knit my Pi shawl, I bought a Silvalume at a Joann's because I had a 40%-off coupon, then I bought a Quicksilver at my LYS. Silvalumes and Quicksilvers both seem to be pretty common where I live in SW Michigan.

The Silvalume is common in chain craft stores: Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Joann Fabric & Crafts.

The Quicksilver seems to be more of a "midscale" needle: I find it in the local yarn stores pitched as a cheaper needle if you can't bear to spring for Addi Turbos.

The Silverado is just plain rare! I bought my US size 2 through 4 Silverados online from Joann.com.

Overall, I like the Silvalumes the least. I don't like the bend in the metal tip, the springy cable material, or the "pinch" in the cable, and I'd say the join, where the cable meets the metal tip, is the roughest. For me their big "pro" is that they are cheap and easy to find at places where I can often get a 40% discount.

The Quicksilvers would come next. The points are nice, and the joins are very good, but the darn cable and the "scritchiness" bugs me. But if you are knitting heavyweight items, they might be the needle for you.

As I've already said, I like the Silverados the best. I like the limpness of the black cable, but remember that it's a thin cable, and I tend to knit lightweight items, like doilies made out of tatting thread. I also like that the metal part of the needle is straight -- another knitter might hate that.

Needle preference is so individual, and depends on so many little factors. You might not like what I like, so take into account what you already have and like, how you knit, what you knit, and please don't throw things if you buy a Silverado and hate it!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah needles! I just had a terrible experience buying some. I am usually an Addy gal, love them, wouldn't change them for anything.

But, I just have this test knit that calls for size 2 and size 4 16" needles--well, the size 2 and size 4 are not the ones that are made by Addys (you know the numeric number thing) so I had to go and find something else to use--what a hassle. Bought a pair of Crystal Palace--yucky! Beautiful finish, love the needle tip, hate the join! Horrible join! Tried Clover--yucky cable join too. Right now, I am waiting to receive some Boye, hopefully those don't have a terrible join too.
Why can't they just realize that cable needles must have a smooth, almost non-existent join.

1:46 PM  
Blogger tatt3r said...

Thanks for the great review! I like the Quicksilver and their pointy tips for lace knitting. I agree the cables are twisty, but don't have a problem with 'scritchy' knitting. I knit looser than you, I guess. I also hate the joins on the Crystal Palace circs. I used them to knit 2 sox on 2 circs, and getting past the joins were the worst part of it all.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Fulvia said...

Funny--I posed the original question and never saw an answer until now, through another blog! Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me the differences as you see them.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Thank you for your helpful review, Alwen. I knew there was a Susan Bates line of needles that I like, I just couldn't remember which ones. Now I know - Quicksilver (the ceramic knife sharpeners - love it!).

I guess I buck the trend since I hate Addi Turbos.

Since I've been knitting long enough that I know how to form knits, purls, and all the increase and decrease variations, for me, knitting comes down to managing all the stitches I'm not knitting. It is in this respect that I really don't like Addis.
Somehow, when I use Addi Turbos, the stitches to the left of the stitch I'm knitting slide away from me and the ones to the right don't slide at all - exactly the opposite of what I need them to do. I've found this with lace, Fair Isle, cotton, wool - all kinds of different fibers and different types of knitting. I find I tense my hands much more when I'm knitting with Addis - just to keep the 'upcoming' stitches from slipping away backwards - than with either Quicksilvers or wooden ones.

Thanks again for your review and your blog!

9:59 PM  

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